Growing older is a part of life. For many, that also means an increased risk of falling. Falls that lead to injuries will lead to a lack of mobility that can lead to more falling.
It does not have to be that way. There are some simple things you can do to stay steady on your feet.
First, let’s look at the parts of the body that help keep us in balance. Your inner ear is part of your vestibular system, the body’s balance control center. As we age, the cells in this system age and die. The system does not work as well, leading to decreased balance.
To take better care of yourself, start with a physical and then have one annually. It should include an eyesight exam.
You need to see well to avoid potential fall hazards. Your eyes work in conjunction with your vestibular system. Wearing corrective glasses or contacts may help.
You should have your vision checked at least every two years and every year if you wear corrective lenses. Ensure that your corrective lenses are clean by cleaning as directed regularly. The proper corrective lenses won’t work if you cannot see through them.
During your physical, also get your doctor’s approval to participate in an exercise program. As we age, we lose muscle and bone mass. Regular exercise will slow the loss of both. An exercise program does not have to be overly strenuous to improve balance, flexibility, strength and overall wellbeing.
Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Some medications have dizziness, vertigo, blurred vision and light-headedness as side effects. Others interact with each other.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if you need everything you are taking and that they are safe to take together. Some health problems interfere with balance. Check with your doctor to see if you have any diagnoses that may cause balance issues.
When you get up, get up slowly, especially from sleeping or lying down. First, sit up, wait and then get up. If you get dizzy, sit back down and allow time for the dizziness to clear. When you feel better, stand up slowly and hold onto something steady.
Proper hydration and a balanced diet are important as well. Dehydration leads to many problems, including vertigo. If you are diabetic or borderline, low blood sugar can lead to falls.
Ensure that you are being safe at home. Wear shoes or at least slippers indoors. This is not the place nor time to be running around in your stocking feet. Your shoes should be slip proof on the bottoms. Area rugs are a trip, slip and fall hazard. Do not use them or ensure they are secure.
Growing older is a normal part of life. We can enjoy it more if we take good care of ourselves.
Balance Disorders. (2014, April 1). Retrieved November 16, 2014, from http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/balance/pages/balance_disorders.aspx
Why Does Balance Decline with Age. Komaroff, Anthony. (2013, June 5). Retrieved November 15, 2014 from http://www.askdoctork.com/why-does-balance-decline-with-age-201306054928